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PCM.daily » PCM Stories & Story Games » PCM 20: Stories
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Alpecin-Fenix: A Legend in the Making
gargatouf
i.imgur.com/7xBTfC4.jpg

Welcome to my new attempt at a story. I really enjoyed the one I did for Groupama-FDJ earlier on this year on PCM 19 and I will hopefully be able to go further in the story as I am starting it much earlier.
So for my second venture, I’ve decided to go with Alpecin-Fenix. A couple of reasons for this. First, there’s obviously the attraction of having Mathieu Van der Poel in the team. Also, I like the idea of starting in Pro Conti and slowly creating a strong World Tour squad. To make things interesting, at least for me, I’ve changed the difficulty rating to 1.075.

Spoiler
Game setting information
DB: PCM.daily Expansion Pack
Crash Frequency: x1.1
Difficulty: 1.075
 
gargatouf
Team Presentation:

Alpecin-Fenix is a Belgian team, that has its roots primarily in cyclo-cross. The team has been around since 2009 and has been sponsored by Alpecin, a German shampoo manufacturer and Fenix, an Italian interior design materials company, since the start of this season. It was known as Corendon-Circus before that. Despite being a cyclo-cross team, they now have Mathieu Van der Poel in its roster, so it has started making serious moves into road racing by signing some riders with World Tour experience over the past couple of seasons, such as Sbaragli, Hansen, Modolo, Vakoc or Vervaeke to support him. The aim is to turn Alpecin-Fenix into one of the best World Tour team.


Team:

NAMERIDER TYPEAGEAVERAGE
D. De BondtBaroudeur2876
L.N. HansenBaroudeur2775
A. RichardsonBaroudeur2970
O. RiesebeekBaroudeur2774
S. ThwaitesBaroudeur2973
M. Van der PoelBaroudeur2480
D. Van der PoelBaroudeur2768
P. WalslebenBaroudeur3270
A. BenoistClassics2064
L. RouillerClassics1964
B. TulettClassics1867
G. VermeerschClassics2774
F. De TierPuncher2773
P. FagerhaugPuncher2164
S. GazePuncher2468
J. JanssensPuncher3072
K. SbaragliPuncher2974
P. VakocPuncher2773
O. VergaerdePuncher2572
L. VervaekePuncher2672
R. JansSprinter2974
A. KriegerSprinter2872
M. MeisenSprinter3170
T. MerlierSprinter2777
S. ModoloSprinter3275
J. RickaertSprinter2574
S. LeysenTT2370


Star riders

Mathieu Van der Poel (NED) – 24

i.imgur.com/sMJZ9Xz.jpg

Unquestionably, the star of the team. He has been with the team since his debut in 2014 and has started to make a name for himself on the road, winning Dwars door Vlaanderen, Brabantse Pijl and Amstel Gold Race last season. He was also Dutch champion in 2018. Almost certainly a future great of the sport, he will be our best chance for wins and will be one of the men to beat in most one day races he will participate in.

Tim Merlier (BEL) – 27

i.imgur.com/Lvyaa6l.jpg

Merlier is the team’s sprinter. He has been with the team since 2019, he is also originally a cyclo-cross rider. However, he has turned into a good sprinter who can, on his day, compete with the best. On the road, he has 6 career wins, with the 2019 Belgian Championship his biggest so far. We’re hoping that he can continue to progress and join the elite of sprinting. He is also a decent cobbles rider, so he will be helpful to VdP in the classics.

Lasse Norman Hansen (DEN) – 27

i.imgur.com/0xbHPhY.jpg

Hansen is a rider that, unlike the majority of his team-mates, has his background on the track. A former Gold medal winner in the Omnium, Hansen has experience in the WT with a couple of years at Garmin. He signed for the team in 2019, coming from the defunct Aqua Blue Sport. He is one the only TT specialist in the team and will be hunting for stage wins.

Sacha Modolo (ITA) – 32

i.imgur.com/q6rHxzt.jpg

An experienced Italian sprinter, he joined the team this year after spells with Lampre, UAE and EF Education First. Another decent sprinter, he has a couple of wins in the Giro and 46 wins overall in his career. He will be a great option in the Belgian calendar. Like Merlier, he is also a decent classics rider, so will also be helpful to VdP.

Kristian Sbaragli (ITA) – 29

i.imgur.com/TFy1LCz.jpg

Another experienced Italian rider, he also joined the team this year after spending the majority of his career with MTN-Qhubeka/Dimension Data and the last couple of years with Israel Academy. He only has one win in his career, but is a decent puncher, who will be there to help VdP in the Ardennes classics and also play his own card in lesser races.

****

Apart from the leaders, the team has some solid riders in its squad, like Gianni Vermeersch, Floris De Tier, Roy Jans, Oscar Riesebeek and Petr Vakoc, who are all here to support Van der Poel, but can also play their own cards in other races. It also has some young promising riders, who we are hoping will be the future of the team, such as Antoine Benoist, Samuel Gaze, Senne Leysen, Loris Rouiller and Ben Tulett.


Objectives

The team is built for one day races, so it’s unsurprising that apart from the Baloise Belgium Tour and the BinckBank Tour, all our objectives are Belgian one day races. In Mathieu Van der Poel, we have a rider capable of winning pretty much every World Tour one day race, except maybe Il Lombardia. Therefore, the first half of the season will be extremely important. We’re also hopeful to get invited to a few World Tour stage races, where we will show our ability to stage hunt. The aim for this season is to get promoted to the World Tour and if VdP delivers then it should not be too much of a problem.
In 2019, the team won 21 races, so we are hoping to do better, including some big races for Van der Poel.

ObjectiveRace
Top 5Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Top 5Danilith-Nokere Koerse
Top 3Bredene Koksijde Classic
Top 5AG Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne
Top 3E3 BinckBank Classic
Top 5Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Field
Top 10Dwars door Vlaanderen
Top 5Ronde van Vlaanderen
Top 5De Brabantse Pijl
Top 10La Fleche Wallonne
Top 10Liege-Bastogne-Liege
Top 5Baloise Belgium Tour
Top 3Dwars door het Hageland
Top 5NC Belgium
Top 5BinckBank Tour

Edited by gargatouf on 01-10-2020 12:10
 
gargatouf
TEAM WINS

T. MerlierSaudi Tour (Stage 1)
T. MerlierSaudi Tour (Stage 2)
L.N. HansenEtoile de Besseges (Stage 5)
M. Van der PoelOmloop Het Nieuwsblad
T. MerlierKuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
S. ThwaitesLe Samyn
M. Van der PoelMilano-Sanremo
M. Van der PoelAG Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne
M. Van der PoelGent-Wevelgem
R. JansTryptique des Monts et Chateaux (Stage 4)
G. VermeerschDe Brabantse Pijl
R. JansGP Beiras e Serra da Estrela (Stage 1)
M. Van der PoelLa Fleche Wallonne

Edited by gargatouf on 03-12-2020 21:39
 
purepasd
Looking forward to the races and hopefully to some aggression from your guys! Smile
 
gargatouf
Before, the season starts, the team gets invite for all the one day races up to the Tour de France, except the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. We also requested invites for the Santos Tour Down Under, the UAE Tour, Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico, unfortunately, we do not get invites, so the team will not participate in any World Tour stage races during the first part of the season.

The team’s bread and butter is the classics, so we build up to them by winning a few races with Merlier winning a couple of stages at the Saudi Tour and Hansen winning the ITT at Etoile de Besseges.

Opening weekend is upon us and for some fans of cycling, it’s the real start of the season. For the team, it definitely is, with the majority of our objectives coming over the next few months. So first, the team heads to Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, an objective for the sponsor and the first test for Van der Poel. Surprinsingly, Van der Poel is the biggest rider at the race, with all the other classics riders not here.
After the last climb of the day, the Bosberg, a group of 4 riders, including Van der Poel, go clear. They are joined by a couple more a few kilometers later and the race goes to a sprint, which Van der Poel wins ahead of Maes and Rowe. It’s a great start to the classics season which gets even better when Merlier wins Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne ahead of Bol and Walscheid and Thwaites wins Le Samyn ahead of Van Aert and Van der Sande. Van Aert had attacked with 7kms to go and looked like winning until he blew up with 200 meters to go.

i.imgur.com/JwdkQF0.png

Next on the calendar is Strade Bianche. The race comes into life with 15 kilometers to go, when the team is on the wrong side of a split in the front group. They quickly find themselves 35’’ behind the leading group. Van der Poel still has Vakoc and Sbaragli with him and the Czech manages to close the gap 5 kms later, but as soon as the junction is made, Formolo attacks and splits the group again in three.

i.imgur.com/yyYCLYC.png

Van der Poel finds himself in the third group and Sbaragli catches the second group a few kilometers later. However, the front group now has a 32’’ lead, which the Italian is struggling to gap. With 4.5kms to go, Van der Poel attacks to try and join the front 4 riders, but he can’t, so Kwiatkowski wins the sprint ahead of Van Avermaet and Formolo, with Van der Poel coming 5th.

i.imgur.com/BuPbwIu.png

Then there are two races important for our sponsor, first with Danilith-Nokere Koerse, where a huge group of 20 riders go in the break and no one wants to take the chase up, so Alpecin-Fenix take the initiative, but can’t bring them back in time and Merlier and Modolo can’t do better than 19th and 25th respectively.
Second is Bredene Koksijde Classic, our best chances for the win are taken out in a fall with around 60kms to go. By the time they get up and a chase is organised it’s too late and we already have 2’30’’ on the lead group. We can’t bridge the gap and Modolo, our best finisher is 65th.
 
gargatouf
Next on the calendar is Milano-Sanremo. On the Cipressa, the race accelerates and at the bottom of the Cipressa, a group of 31 riders finds itself at the front. There are several little groups on the road. Van der Poel is in that front group with Hansen as support.

i.imgur.com/Qr2ZCpH.png

UAE and Trek push hard at the front as several favourites have been caught in the splits. At the bottom of the Poggio, the front group has 25’’ on the following group. Towards the end of the Poggio, Stuyven attacks and takesVan der Poel and Kung with him.

i.imgur.com/xB2Iumv.png

Van der Poel attacks in the descent and gets a bit of a gap on the other two riders with him and he wins the race ahead of Stuyven and Kung. The bunch arrives almost a minute later.

i.imgur.com/VMPBCby.png


Next is AG Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne. Once again, it’s not the strongest of startlist. The race comes alive with around 30 kilometers to go. Suddenly, after an acceleration from CCC and Groupama, the breakaway’s lead tumble and they are caught a few kilometers later. With 17 kilometers to go, there is another split in the main group and the front group has only 21 riders left. Van der Poel is alone in that group and he needs to be careful of the attacks that are coming. In that group, there are some big sprinters left, so Van der Poel attacks as he needs to try and get rid of them in order to win.

i.imgur.com/6K9YNOC.png

He quickly gets a 30’’ lead with 5kms to go, as the group struggles to organise itself. They finally manage to organise themselves with Sunweb and NTT finally chasing with about 3.5kms to go, but it’s too late as Van der Poel has built too much of a lead and the Dutchman wins the race ahead of Selig and Sarreau.

i.imgur.com/gZgg9p9.png

We then have E3. This time, the vast majority of favourites are at the start line. It’s a tough race and after the Oude Kwaremont, with 35 kilometers to go, the bunch has split into several groups. Van der Poel is on his own in that front group, made up of 36 riders. On the next climb, Politt attacks and joins up with what is left of the breakaway and has 25’’ on the group of favourites, with Benoot in between these two groups.

i.imgur.com/yw7n1LQ.png

The group of favourites has trouble getting organised and is losing time, so Van der Poel attacks and takes several riders with him to make a group of 7, who look likely to contest the win. However, with around 4kms to go, Benoot falls so the group has now 6 riders in the front group: Van der Poel, Vanmarcke, Politt, Gilbert, Van Avermaert and Naesen.

i.imgur.com/CXwAgnn.png

So the race ends up in a sprint and several replays are needed to crown Van Avermaet is the quickest ahead of Naesen with Van der Poel coming in third in what is a very tight sprint.

i.imgur.com/D1whhlN.png
 
gargatouf
Next is Gent-Wevelgem. With 37kms to go, once all the climbs of the day are done, the front group is made up of 14 riders and have 45’’ on the second group, made up of around 40 riders. Modolo is setting a fast pace to try and keep the chasing groups behind. Vermeersch is still there with Van der Poel, so for the first time, the team has more than one rider in the front group at the deep end of the race.

i.imgur.com/cG8wtOZ.png

However, with about 20kms to go, Van Baarle brings the two groups back and from then on, the attacks start and keep going. Riders are dropped gradually and with 9 kms to go, the front group has 28 riders in it. Vermeersch does unbelievable work to keep the numerous attacks at arms length and with 5 kilometers to go, it’s Van der Poel's turn to attack, as there are some very dangerous sprinters left.

i.imgur.com/mSbDktI.png

Morkov and Grondahl Jansen chase to keep Stybar and Groenewegen in it, but Van der Poel has kept just enough of energy and built just enough of a lead to win the race ahead of Gaviria and Groenewegen.

i.imgur.com/cvOVKY5.png

Then we have Dwaars door Vlaanderen, the last race before Ronde van Vlaanderen. The race sparks into life with around 50 kilometers to go with several splits in the peloton after 2 or 3 climbs in the space of 10 kms or so. With 34kms to go, the riders go up the Oude Kwaremont, then the Paterberg a few kilometers later. At that point, the front group has 21 riders in it. A few kilometers later, Mads Pedersen attacks and takes Durbridge with him. They quickly get over a minute, so at that point Van Avermaet attacks and has Van der Poel on his wheel. It’s a massive attack which Van der Poel struggles to keep with, but these two are now 30’’ behind the leading duo.

i.imgur.com/SGtjetj.png

As mentioned, the Van Avermaet attack has taken a lot out of Van der Poel and on the next climb, he struggles to keep up with the Belgian and is dropped. To make matters worse, he is overtaken by the next group and is also dropped by them and he quickly finds himself a minute behind.

i.imgur.com/bHoYChH.png

With 5 kms to go, Pedersen and Van Avermaet fall so Van der Poel overtakes them, but the gap to the front group has grown to 1’20’’. Out of that group of 4, Sagan is the quickest and he wins the race ahead of Cort and Durbridge. Van der Poel finishes 6th, while Vermeersch who was in the Van Avermaet/Pedersen group is 8th.

i.imgur.com/wa9YOFl.png
 
gargatouf
Next is Ronde Van Vlaandren. 9 riders go in the break and before the first climb of the Oude Kwaremont, the break is 2’26’’ ahead of the peloton. With 50 kms to go, the riders go up the Oude Kwaremont again and then the Paterberg. Thanks to an acceleration from Vermeersch, the peloton is blown to bits and the front group, which includes only 15 riders has almost a minute on another group of 20 riders including Van Avermaet, Politt, Gilbert, Trentin and Durbridge. Stuyven is almost 1’30’’ down, while Stybar and Lampaert are 2’ down.

i.imgur.com/FMzZG36.png

EF1 ride hard at the front to keep these gaps, while Van der Poel is tucked in that group with Vermeersch with him. On the next climb, Benoot attacks and Sagan follows him. Once again, EF1 chase and the gap doesn’t grow above 20’’, but the chasing group now has only 8 riders.

i.imgur.com/u0HvImx.png

Then, on the next climb, the Kruisberg, the chasing pack join up with the front two, but at the top of the climb, Benoot attacks again and takes Sagan, Terpstra and Van Aert with him. Naesen can’t quite follow while Van der Poel can’t follow the attack and is dropped. A few kilometers later, he is 45’’ behind the leading group, with Vanmarcke and Kristoff.

i.imgur.com/L1n54zN.png

The last two difficulties of the day are the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. On the Oude Kwaremont, Sagan attacks and drops the three other members of the group, while Van der Poel tries to counter attack, but is lacking energy. Vanmarcke stays with him, while Kristoff is dropped, but the gap to the leader has gone up to 1’10’’. On the Paterberg, Benoot is dropped and when Van der Poel reaches the 10kms to go mark, Sagan has 9’’ on Terpstra and Van Aert, 40’’ on Benoot and almost 1’30’’ on Van der Poel and Vanmarcke.

i.imgur.com/BAweiF5.png

With 3kms to go, Terpstra has joined Sagan, while Van Aert is still 10’’ behind, so the win will be for one of these 3 riders. At the back, Van Avermaet and Teunissen almost make it back to the Van der Poel/Vanmarcke duo, so Van der Poel accelerates, but it doesn’t last long and he can’t drop Vanmarcke, but the following duo has been dropped. At the front, Terpstra is the freshest of the two, so he wins the race ahead of Sagan, with Van Aert third.

i.imgur.com/7G8p1vq.png

Benoot comes fourth, while Van der Poel beats Vanmarcke in the sprint. Behind them, Vermeersch finishes a very good 12th.

*******

Then we have Paris-Roubaix. This time 13 riders go in the break and they don’t get much leeway from CCC and Jumbo Visma, who are at the front controlling the bunch. The race comes to life with 70kms to go on a cobbled sector, when Stybar attacks and is followed by Terpstra. On the next cobbled sector, UAE accelerate and Van der Poel is badly placed so he’s on the wrong side of a split in the bunch.

i.imgur.com/rpmm2Sg.png

Sagan is also in that group, so BORA and Alpecin work hard to bridge the gap, which we manage to do about 15kms later. On the next cobbled sector, all the favourites attack. Van der Poel, who is towards the back of the group, misses the attack, so he makes De Bondt and Vermeersch work to bridge the gap, which they manage to do with 40kms to go. At that point, Naesen is on his own up front, 44’’ ahead of Kristoff and another 15’’ ahead of a group of 14 containing most of the favourites. Politt, Van Avermaet and Terpstra are the major favourites missing as they have all punctured.

i.imgur.com/0Seb7jG.png

Kristoff is then caught and Naesen is up front for a long time, with a lead of around a minute. Unfortunately for Van der Poel, on a cobbled sector with around 25kms to go, Vermeersch punctures, so he finds himself alone. At the Carrefour de l’Arbre section, the favourites attack and Van der Poel struggles to keep up. They catch up to Naesen and find themselves over 30’’ on the second group, made up of Van der Poel, Edmonson (the last man standing from the initial breakaway) and Lampaert.
On the next sector, Lampaert is dropped, but Edmonson attacks and Van der Poel can’t follow. He loses some more time and is now over 45’’ behind the group of leaders.

i.imgur.com/o5GP2Zl.png

The 10 riders at the front enter the Roubaix velodrome together. Van der Poel is now over a minute behind. In the sprint, Naesen is the first one to start, but he is quickly overtaken by Sagan and Kristoff with the Norwegian winning by less than a wheel over the Slovakian.

i.imgur.com/Z1rZSOH.png

Edmonson is a surprising 3rd, with Van Aert and Naesen finishing 4th and 5th respectively. Van der Poel finishes 11th, 1’15’’ behind the winning group.
 
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gargatouf
Next is De Brabantse Pijl. With 18kms to go, De Plus attacks and splits the peloton. The Alpecin-Fenix riders find themselves 45’’ and the chase start along with Lotto-Soudal. Thwaites does exceptionally well to bridge the gap and with 9kms to go, the leading group has 30 riders in it. There are several attacks but none that stick. With 4.5kms to go, Vermeersch attacks and quickly gets a gap, which no one seems to want to chase. He gets around 25’’ and flags a bit on the uphill finish but manages to stay ahead of a comeback from Van Aert, who has Van der Poel in his wheel. To make things better for the team, Van der Poel overtakes Van Aert in the sprint to make it an Alpecin-Fenix 1-2. It’s a great end to Vermeersch’s cobbled classic season, a deserved win for a rider who has been the best domestique for Van der Poel.

i.imgur.com/4fMguHX.png

*****
Then we have the Amstel Gold Race. The first of the three Ardennes classics. In the last 15kms, the main bunch splits into two. The first group, containing Van der Poel, Vakoc and Vervaeke and all the favourites, has 42’’ on the second group. With 9kms to go, on the Keutenberg, Matthews attacks and takes a 15’’ lead, but he is caught by Vakoc with 5kms to go.

i.imgur.com/rIrzHkv.png

At the bottom of the Cauberg, Vakoc leaves Van der Poel at the front of the leading group and the sprint for the win starts. Van der Poel is in pole position for the win, but unfortunately for us, Matthews is too quick and he wins the race, with Van der Poel just behind in second and then Fuglsang and Alaphilippe.

i.imgur.com/yiYn9xL.png

*****
The second part of the Ardennes trio of races is Fleche Wallonne. As expected, there are still a lot of riders left in the front group with 10kms to go, so on a little climb, Vakoc attacks and takes a 15’’ lead. Deceuninck and INEOS chase the Czech rider with Sbaragli and Van der Poel tucked in that group.

i.imgur.com/utd2PWa.png

Vakoc is caught on the Cote de Cherave and at the bottom of the climb, Fuglsang attacks and arrives on the Mur de Huy with a 10’’ lead on the group of favourites. Van der Poel is on Valverde’s wheel on the climb and at the top is fifth. He starts his sprint and overtakes Wellens and Teuns who looked like they were going to battle for the win.
Van der Poel wins ahead of Wellens and Fuglsang who managed to hold on to Teun’s comeback, and Valverde comes fifth.

i.imgur.com/K1Z97l1.png

*****
Finally, we have Liege-Bastogne-Liege. 12 riders go in the break, including Vergaerde. They get up to 5’30’’ on the bunch, but Groupama, EF1 and Sunweb keep them close and with around 150kms to go, they start to accelerate and slowly close the gap and they get caught with 69kms to go. Nothing much happens until the Col de la Redoute, with 30kms to go. Groupama and Movistar accelerate and the front group contains only 37 riders. Van der Poel is here with Vervaeke and De Tier protecting him.

i.imgur.com/bnZCR2L.png

Then comes the Cote de la Roche aux Faucons. There is another acceleration from BORA and Jumbo which splits the front group and Van der Poel just makes it in that leading group of 21 riders. Then on the Cote de St Nicolas, Matthews attacks and takes Alaphilippe, Woods, Valverde and Fuglsang with him. They keep a 20’’ or so second gap until the final climb up Col d’Ans where Matthews attacks again. But he has done too much as Woods overtakes him and is the freshest and wins the race, 7’’ ahead of Fuglsang, Matthews, Alaphilippe and Valverde. Van der Poel is in the next group, 24’’ behind the winner and finishes 9th.

i.imgur.com/M5Dml3s.png
 
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